Indigenous law students to discuss decolonial approaches to law school

Pre-Orientation week sessions run August 26 to 28

Helen Metella - 20 August 2020

Indigenous law students who are entering the University of Alberta Faculty of Law this September are invited to a new series of orientation sessions that will be held virtually during the last week of August.

The three-day program titled, “A Practical Guide to Your Legal Beginnings: Through a Decolonial Lens,” is intended to provide first-year Indigenous law students with helpful tools, advice and thoughtful commentary, said Apryl Gladue, the Faculty’s Indigenous student academic and cultural support advisor.

The program also welcomes attendance by incoming Indigenous law students from the University of Calgary Faculty of Law (which ran five similar sessions earlier this summer that included UAlberta students).

“This is such an important program to discuss and address aspects of systemic racism and the effects of colonial law,” said Gladue. “We are well-placed to be able to expose students to academic experts and legal practitioners dealing with these issues and to stories of personal experience from their own law school journeys.”

Topics covered during the 45-minute sessions will range from study tips to preparation for the emotional toll that studying legal principles and cases involving Indigenous Peoples may produce for students.

Among the guest speakers are professors of first-year law courses, junior lawyers and other practitioners with experience in current, high-profile cases involving Indigenous people. One of those is criminal lawyer Richard Mirasty, who is conducting a review of the 2017 death of Indigenous woman Rhonda Auger to analyze whether the police response and investigation into her death after she fell from the third storey of a hotel were reasonable.

There will also be a special session by retired Federal Court Justice Leonard S. Mandamin, a Q&A panel and an opening icebreaker with fellow students.

"Having just graduated, I can speak to the importance of creating connections early on in your law school career,” said Tyler Tremel, ‘20 JD, who helped create this new orientation program for Indigenous students.

“These early connections become even more important when a student not only has to face the challenges of the information overload that is law school, but also the inherent barriers of systemic racism in our education systems. This orientation will offer our Indigenous students a unique opportunity to meet their professors, ask the questions they want to know, and get a head-start on the practical tools to position them best for the early days of the semester.”

The program runs Wednesday through Friday, August 26 to 28, in four blocks each day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Register at Eventbrite to receive your Google Meet link by August 26.